More Kiwis are calling Australia home, but some of those
venturing across the ditch are finding the so-called lucky
country not so lucky after all.
The latest census figures from Australia show 483,400 people
living in Australia were born in New Zealand, about 2.2 per
cent of the total population.
It's an increase of almost 100,000 people since the last
census in 2006, and it means there are now more Kiwis living
in Australia than there are living in either Wellington or
Meanwhile, figures from this side of the Tasman show about
1000 Kiwis are heading to Australia each week, with
intentions of staying there long-term.
Many of those who leave New Zealand shores do so because of
the promise of more jobs, better pay and warmer weather.
Jacques Poot, Professor of Population Economics at Waikato
University, says the integrated trans-Tasman labour market
means workers are more mobile and more likely to move to
where the jobs are.
Most of the migration has been to Australia because
"Australia has generated more jobs over the last several
decades than New Zealand", Prof Poot says.
However, the economic realities are starting to bite for
"The Australian dollar is really high, because of that, if a
New Zealander converts what they could earn in Australia to
New Zealand dollars then it looks like it could be quite a
gain," Prof Poot said.
But, there's a catch.
"If they use that current exchange rate as a measure for
whether they're going to gain, they are probably going to be
disappointed because, particularly right now, they will
under-estimate the cost of living in Australia."
And some are finding it tougher than expected.
The New Zealand High Commission in Canberra and the New
Zealand Consulate-Generals in Sydney and Melbourne have
noticed an increase in the number of Kiwis wanting help to
return home, a spokesman for the High Commission told NZ
Most New Zealanders who enter Australia are issued with a
non-protected special category visa, which means they can
live and work in Australia as long as they wish, as long as
they remain of good character.
However, this particular type of visa means New Zealanders
have limited access to Australian health, disability, social
and education support and have no entitlement to unemployment
or sickness benefits, or to student loans.
For young people - university graduates with no assets and
limited family ties in New Zealand - hopping across the
Tasman is easy, Bank New Zealand Head of Research Stephen
But it's not so easy for others.
"If say, for example, you're in your mid-40s, married, couple
of kids, own your own house and a couple of assets in New
Zealand, well it's hellishly difficult to move to Australia,"
"You're going to swap your million dollar house in Auckland
and have to buy a three million dollar house in Sydney to be
equally as well off, and then the cost of your kids'
education over there and all the rest."
The wages might be higher in Australia, but Mr Toplis says
"you're probably going to have to work five or 10 years to
pay back the difference".
With the exception of the mining sector, Australia has felt
the bite of the recession.
"Western Australia is doing well because of the money that
spins off the back of the mining sector," Mr Toplis said.
"I think you'll find that businesses that have New Zealand
and Australian operations in the domestic economy are
probably more worried about their Australian businesses than
they are their New Zealand businesses."
For Kiwis venturing across the ditch, Australia might not be
the land of milk and honey after all.